Students inspire troops

Published 3:14 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

Students who ride Kay Forbes’ No. 035 school bus to school each day have written Christmas letters to troops serving in Iraq for a third consecutive year.

The idea for the yearly project, which brings Christmas blessings and cheer to the troops, originated with Forbes, whose granddaughter, Karmyn Alday, lost her father, U.S. Navy Corpsman Zachary M. Alday, when he was killed June 9, 2006, while serving in Iraq.

This year’s letters, written by Bainbridge High School and West Bainbridge Middle School students, were sent to First Battalion, Fourth Alpha Company, Weapons Platoon in Iraq.

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“Each year, I tell the students to just write what is on their heart,” Forbes said.

Recently Zachary’s friend, Navy Corpsman Christopher Arrendonado of Duarte, Calif., who served with him in Iraq, visited with me and the rest of his family.

“He told us how Zachary constantly boosted the moral of his fellow troops. He is a great guy and his remembrances of serving with Zachary were special to us.”

Following is a letter to the troops in Iraq written by Bainbridge High School senior Lauren R. Thomas.

Lauren R. Thomas

12th Grade

Bainbridge High School

November 2, 2008

Dear American Troops,

“My name is Lauren Thomas and I am a senior at Bainbridge High School in Bainbridge, Georgia. A week ago my bus driver told us of a letter project she had started a couple of years ago for our troops that were stationed in Iraq. She told anyone who was interested that they could participate. I felt in my heart that it was not only the right thing to do but a duty for me to express my appreciation for the troops. I wasn’t so sure what I wanted to write or what I would say to soldiers who have done so much for me, my family, my school, my community and the country that I love so much. How do you tell individuals that you appreciate everything that they do? How much you are grateful for their daily sacrifice? How do you express your sorrow for the lives that are lost so that you may have freedom? How do you express your gratitude? The only thing I can think of to say is Thank You even though it is an understatement by far.

“Even though you all may not realize it, the unity our American troops show away from home is refreshing and inspiring to our nation. Out on the front lines there is no segregation between ethnicities, races, genders or religions. You all are our heroes and for your efforts you deserve a standing ovation. I want to thank you for your self-sacrificing attitudes and your willingness to lay down your lives in hopes that your sacrifice might benefit future generations. I want you all to know that your efforts never go unnoticed or unappreciated. Even though many of you are away from your families, friends and your country, you are not nor ever will be forgotten. There are people here and all over the nation who are praying for you; for your safe journey and return home.

“One important lesson I have learned during my life is that there is no reason to fear because “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) So if there is a time when you find yourself afraid, powerless and or confused, ask God for strength and the will to overcome your circumstances. With your prayers and ours, there is nothing that God can not handle.

For the soldiers who may not have family and who feel all alone … You will never be alone! One thing about being an American is that we are all family, And there are people all over this great nation who are rooting for our troops and supporting them with everything they have. Because here, we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave and that fact is apparent in our daily lives, especially yours. I love you all so much and I will continue to keep you all in my prayers! Be blessed.”


Lauren R. Thomas